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Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010 10:27 a.m.

Book festival to be held on National Mall Saturday

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will serve as honorary chairs of this weekend’s 10th annual National Book Festival.

The free event, sponsored by the Library of Congress, is meant to connect readers with their favorite authors and works of literature and to promote reading – an aspiration of former first lady Laura Bush, the event’s founder.

“We have just a real wealth of world-class talent here,” Jennifer Gavin, senior public affairs specialist at the Library of Congress, said. “We have a Nobel Prize winner, Orhan Pamuk, who has sold I believe 70 million books.”

Best-selling author Ken Follett, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rae Armantrout and Top Chef star Spike Mendelsohn – owner of Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill – will also meet fans at the event. Professor Steven Roberts will present and sign his book, “My Fathers’ Houses.”

Book signings, presentations and discussions will take place at designated pavilions throughout the festival.

Last year, more than 120,000 readers flocked to the National Mall for the event.

“The goal of the festival is to promote the joy of reading and literacy in general and to give people exposure to the authors who have created works they love,” Gavin said. “Literacy and reading is the foundation of a good life, really.”

Held this Saturday, the event will run from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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